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Professional Version

General Condemnation of Production Animals


Kathryn R. Polking

, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Reviewed/Revised Jun 2022 | Modified Oct 2022
Topic Resources

Production animals condemned at antemortem inspection should be humanely destroyed and disposed of (see Disposal of Carcasses and Disinfection of Premises Disposal of Carcasses and Disinfection of Premises ). Carcasses condemned at postmortem inspection must also be humanely disposed of.

Certain parts of all carcasses are considered inedible and must be disposed of, such as lungs, lactating mammary glands, laryngeal muscles, and thyroid glands. Brains, cheek meat, and head trimmings from animals that were stunned by lead, sponge iron, or frangible bullets, and carcasses containing drug or other residues are also unacceptable. To eliminate the threat of bovine spongiform encephalopathy Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a progressive, fatal, infectious neurologic disease that is due to the accumulation of misfolded proteins, termed prions, in the central nervous system... read more Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in the food supply, certain specified risk materials from cattle are disposed of as well; these include the tonsils and distal ileum of all cattle, and the brain, skull, eyes, trigeminal ganglia, spinal cord, vertebral column, and dorsal root ganglia of cattle that are at least 30 months old.

Inspectors examine carcasses for contamination throughout routine inspection procedures and very carefully at the final carcass inspection station. Slaughter establishments (abattoirs) must handle carcasses in a sanitary manner to prevent contamination with fecal material, urine, bile, hair, dirt, or foreign material. Any contamination that does occur must be promptly removed by trimming or another method satisfactory to the inspector.

Carcasses and parts of animals tagged as suspects on antemortem inspection, or found to have lesions or clinical signs of disease during routine postmortem inspection, are retained for further examination by a veterinarian. The veterinarian thoroughly examines the carcass and parts, using their own professional knowledge and judgment to make a supportable, final decision. Although certain disease conditions carry specific requirements, two general principles apply: acute disease conditions are typically of greater concern than chronic ones, and generalized conditions are of more concern than localized lesions. Carcasses with generalized conditions or diseases, including cancers, that have so altered the normal characteristics of the meat that it is inedible or unfit for food should be condemned. Localized conditions that do not affect the wholesomeness of the entire carcass (such as an abscess or a single, benign tumor) should be removed by trimming and the remainder of the carcass passed.

If there is reason to suspect that the carcass contains residues of an antimicrobial, other drug, or other compound that may be injurious to human health, the veterinarian may retain the carcass and parts, collect samples, and test for such residues. Carcasses of animals tagged as suspects, found to have an injection-site lesion, or originating from farms previously cited for residue violations are all candidates for such testing. Animals shown in exhibitions may be randomly tested as well.

Veterinarians may use additional diagnostic methods, such as collecting samples for histologic evaluation, to aid in making a final disposition.

Special Considerations for Tuberculosis in Production Animals

Eradication efforts have greatly decreased the presence of tuberculosis Overview of Tuberculosis in Animals Tuberculosis is an infectious zoonotic disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium avium complex. It is usually a chronic, debilitating disease; however, symptoms... read more Overview of Tuberculosis in Animals in production animals. However, continued surveillance for this disease during slaughter inspection remains an invaluable tool for detecting positive herds. The entire carcass should be condemned when there is evidence of generalized tuberculosis. Generalized tuberculosis is evident when an active lesion is present; the animal is cachectic; a lesion is present in muscle, intermuscular tissue, bone, joint, abdominal organs other than the GI tract, or a lymph node associated with these parts; extensive lesions are present in the thoracic or abdominal cavity; lesions are multiple, acute, and actively progressive; or the nature or extent of lesions does not indicate localization.

An organ or part should be condemned when it or its corresponding lymph nodes contain lesions. When lesions in pigs are localized and are found at only one primary site of infection, such as the cervical lymph nodes, the unaffected parts are acceptable for food after condemnation of the affected organ or part. Even though certain carcasses minimally affected with tuberculosis may be considered safe after commercial cooking, any such carcasses not evaluated in facilities inspected by federal or state officials should be condemned.

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